In 1934, Otto “Ott” M. Musil opened the useful Musil’s Sports Shop at 704 9th Street, in the former location of his competitor, known as the Fix-It Shop. Ott’s store was the place to go for a myriad of services and sporting equipment. He specialized in selling and repairing bicycles, guns, ammunition, and motorcycles. In 1938, Ott sold reconditioned motorcycles starting at $100, and a Roadmaster bicycle sold for $34.50 in 1940; prices that are hard for us to imagine these days!
Ott sold and worked on more than just the two-wheeled variety of sporting equipment. He also sold wagons, ice-skates, and even doll carriages! He was a genuine jack-of-all-trades. In addition, the shop repaired vacuum cleaners, tennis rackets, conducted various metal grinding services, and lock and key fitting.
Aside from guns, Ott’s other passion lay in motorcycles. He might be considered a “bad boy” in today’s terms, but the handsome and confident Ott was already taken. In March 1938, motorcycling had a dramatic comeback in Greeley, and Ott and his friends decided to organize a motorcycle club. They called themselves the “Knights of the Roaring Wheels”, and at the time nineteen members joined their ranks. Ott Musil was quickly elected the president of the club, and meetings were often held at the Musil Sports Shop. The club was not simply a fun way to pass the afternoons, it also emphasized safety for riders and traffic as its mission.
Members of the motorcycle club, which continued after Musil’s departure to California, also participated in competitive motorcycle events at Island Grove Park. In 1950, the motorcycle speed race was won by Russ Markley of Greeley, at 125 miles per hour.
Ott Musil ran the Musil Sports Shop until 1948 when he sold it to A. C. Stoner and Allen Harshbarger. The Musil family decided to move to Pasadena, California where Ott began a custom guns workshop. The new owners kept the name Musil’s Sport Shop, but their ownership was short lived. By 1954 the sports shop was no longer.
Originally published in the Greeley Tribune in 2011
Written by Caroline Blackburn, former Curator of Collections for the City of Greeley Museums